SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Sacramento State (2-1) played two games on Sunday, wrapping up their season-opening series against North Dakota State (1-2) after Friday night's rainout. After a thrilling, 2-1 walk off win in Sunday's first game, the Hornets rolled to an 8-3 win over the Bison in game two.
Iwasa sends Hornets home with 2-1 walk-off win
Much of game one looked similar to Saturday night as the Hornets managed just five total hits, including just two in the first seven innings, as they found themselves trailing 1-0 in the eighth.
Freshman catcher Martin Vincelli-Simard opened the home half of the eight with a booming double into the left-center gap and was replaced by pinch runner Aaron Zeidman. Zeidman advanced to third on a passed ball and immediately scored as Steven Moretto brought him home with a sacrifice fly, tying the game.
Making his Hornets debut with the game tied, 1-1, in the ninth, Nick Iwasa lined the second pitch he saw into centerfield. Smith read it all the way, scoring easily from second as the team mobbed Iwasa for the walk-off hit.
#WACtion Update | WALK OFF! The first #WACbsb walkoff of the season comes via the bat of @SacStBaseball's Nick Iwasa (@nick_harou), who drives home Matt Smith to give the Hornets the 2-1 win!— WACsports (@WACsports) February 17, 2019
Game 2 of the DH coming up next on the WAC Digital Network: https://t.co/b9iJmrX1pk pic.twitter.com/LjhPOXXyoD
"Smith got a great jump," noted head coach Reggie Christiansen after the doubleheader. "And you have to give Iwasa the credit, too. He sat there for eight innings, then coming off the bench, pinch hits and lines the base hit into center to win the game."
Sacramento State's pitching combined to allow just one run while scattering nine hits and a walk. They struck out seven - all by starter Scott Randall.
Randall, who was one of Sacramento State's 2019 WAC Preseason all-conference selections, was sharp in his season debut, tossing six shutout innings. He allowed six hits and one walk while striking out seven. He threw 90 pitches in his first outing, 63 for strikes.
Travis Martizia was also sharp in relief, throwing 2.2 scoreless innings while allowing just one hit.
"Scott looked really good today," added Christiansen. "I felt good about the way he was throwing today. And Martizia was outstanding out of the bullpen today, really impressed with that, today, too."
Roberts strikes out 13 as Hornets clinch series with 8-3 win
Sacramento State carried the momentum from their afternoon walk-off straight into the evening half of the doubleheader, opening up a 3-0 lead after just one inning.
The inning started with game one's hero, Iwasa, getting hit by pitch. Matt Smith and Vincelli-Simard followed with base hits, leading the bases for Moretto. The sophomore second baseman brought them all home, bashing a 1-1 pitch to the wall in left-center.
North Dakota State answered with a run of their own in the top of the second, but that was all the damage the would do against starter Austin Roberts, who was phenomenal in his season debut.
Roberts, a junior, spent last season in the bullpen, but was excellent in his first stint as a starter this year. He threw seven innings, allowing just one run on six hits and two walks while striking out a season-high 13. The 13 punch-outs are tied for second most in a single game in program history.
That's all for Roberts (@ARobby17), who strikes out 13 in 7 innings! Final line: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 13 K. �������������������������� #StingersUp— Sac State Baseball (@SacStBaseball) February 18, 2019
T8 | SAC 7, NDSU 1 pic.twitter.com/l4D5qsXd9D
"Everything felt like it was working tonight," Roberts said after game two of Sunday's doubleheader. "I felt like I was commanding my fastball well and when I needed to go to he slider it was there, both as a chase pitch and for a strike."
Roberts struck out at least one in each of his seven innings and struck out the side in the fourth, an inning in which he found himself in a bases-loaded jam before escaping unscathed.
Even then, the junior felt like he had things under control.
"I just felt calm out there all night," he said. "Having two years of experience - I still remember my first start at the John and the jitters of a collegiate game - none of those really tonight, though. It just felt like another night."
Head Coach Reggie Christiansen saw the same thing from his position, as well.
"He had terrific stuff tonight," Christiansen said. "He had three pitches for strikes all night and I just thought he was really great tonight."
The Hornets continued to add on, scoring another run in the fourth, three more in the fifth, and their last in the eighth. In total, Sacramento State scored eight runs on 14 hits while also drawing two walks. Bronson Grubbs was 3-for-4 in the nightcap while Trevor Doyle, Dawsen Bacho, Moretto, and Vincelli-Simard each collected two hits in the win.
Doyle also had three RBIs, second only to Moretto's three.
"Our offense was better, especially in the second game today," observed Christiansen on the bats coming to life in the later part of the day.
"Some guys got their first hits out of the way which does help. Doyle had his first collegiate hit, I saw some good things out of Martin...I'm really proud of the way we responded today."
With the series win, Sacramento State clinched their sixth consecutive season-opening series win or split. The first five all came against Power 5 programs, including series wins against Utah and Auburn.
The Hornets will play next on Thursday as they travel to Stockton for two games against the Pacific Tigers. That four game series starts with two on the road at Pacific on Thursday and Friday and concludes with two back at John Smith Field on Saturday and Sunday.
For more information on video and audio streams, live stats, and more, be sure to visit the 2019 Sacramento State Baseball Schedule at HornetSports.com.